NHS maternity services continue to decline leaving women without vital support | Fieldfisher
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NHS maternity services continue to decline leaving women without vital support

A damning Care Quality Commission survey of more than 20,000 women who gave birth last February in England puts further pressure on struggling NHS maternity services for failing to properly care for mothers and their babies.

The report states that a quarter of the mothers said that at times, they were unable to get help from midwives and doctors when they were worried during labour and less than half said their husband, partner of family member was allowed to stay with them during and after their labour.

The CQC looked at 26 aspects of maternity care and found 'a significant downward trend' in 21 areas over five years. Postnatal care once women return home was also found to be getting worse, with many new mothers left feeling isolated and unsure how to care for their baby.

What is equally cruel is the increasing numbers of women who said their concerns were ignored and they were not treated with dignity and respect. The number of women who said they were treated with "kindness and understanding" by hospital staff has fallen over three years from 76 per cent to 71 per cent. Just more than two-thirds (69%) reported “definitely” having confidence and trust in the staff delivering their antenatal care.

Many of our clients involved in birth injury and neonatal deaths raise that they repeatedly told maternity staff that something was wrong before and during their labour but were not listened to until it was too late.

Despite a series of high-profile investigations, the CQC says that maternity services continue to deteriorate. At all stages of pregnancy - from getting a GP appointment to breastfeeding advice - women's experience has got steadily worse over the past five years.

More than half of the 139 NHS maternity units are currently classed by the CQC as "inadequate" or "requires improvement" regarding safety.

As ever, staff shortages, including a lack of 2,000 midwives, are at the core of this troubling data which sees women left alone and anxious during childbirth.

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